Exposé Online banner

Birdsongs of the Mesozoic — Petrophonics
(Cuneiform Rune 179, 2000, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2001-03-01

Petrophonics Cover artEver since I first heard this band back in the early 80s, I’ve been fascinated by their style: rock instrumentation playing challenging music which is not based in the conventions of rock and roll, sort of like what Stravinsky would do with a drum kit, electric guitar, and electronic organ. In fact they covered part of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” on an early album. Over the decades, the band has expanded their scope to touch on rock styles (like the spy-theme guitar on this disc’s title track) and experienced some personnel changes, but the basic esthetic has not changed. Pianist Erik Lindgren is still the dominant player (and majority composer), but Birdsongs would not be Birdsongs without the other players. Ken Field’s saxophones provide both melody and edge; Michael Bierylo’s guitar is by turns melodic and sound effect; Rick Scott’s contributions on synthesizer and “sound design” are a little hard to but a finger on, but essential none the less, comprising (I suppose) all the non-piano keyboard parts. In spite of the lack of a permanent drummer, rhythm parts are an integral part of the band’s sound, from the driving drum machine of “Petrophonics” to the atmospheric noises of “Study of Unintended Consequences” to the massed pounding toms of “The Insidious Revenge of Ultima Thule, Part One.” The main thing that sets this release apart from the other Birdsongs albums is an attention to ambiance. Even in the faster tunes, there is a fullness to the sound and incredible richness of detail I don’t hear in previous efforts, fine as they were. Listen to Petrophincs closely and a multitude of great little touches will become apparent. This is a sure bet for the top of my year’s best list, and I could easily go on much longer about its wonders.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 21, 2000 releases

Related artist(s): Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Ken Field

Latest news

2018-05-14
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more

2018-04-05
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more

2018-04-04
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more

2018-03-01
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

2018-02-26
Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Hanggai - He Who Travels Far – Since their 2008 debut CD, this band from Inner Mongolia (currently resident in Beijing) has become a world music festival favorite, playing WOMAD, among others. That release blended the earthy sounds...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues